The beautiful and scenic Southwest was calling to me. And I dare not reject the call. So I took a chance and booked my first vacation to Arizona with my sights set on exploring as much of the terrain as possible. My trip centered upon a yoga and hiking tour in Sedona, AZ which lead me to other attractions and activities. While I could have opted for a spa treatment I elected to go for an early morning horse ride.
Ridding horses can not only serve as a fun adventure it can also be relaxing and/ or therapeutic. The one hour horse ride was a great activity to start the morning coming in well under $100.
My hotel was a few short blocks away from the University of Phoenix in Phoenix, AZ. It was my first time actually seeing the brick and mortar campus. The drive was a little less than two hours away from my hotel. My research revealed that not only was Arizona home of some of the most beautiful sites in America the drive between Phoenix and my final destination of Sedona was breathtaking.
The drive from Phoenix, AZ to Cottonwood, AZ was truly awe-inspiring. It’s truly the scenery that one can only fantasizes about. Even driving through the city of Phoenix along the expressways the landscapers have adorned the mounds between the overpasses with creative designs such as snakes. Proceed further and cactus appear along the expressway into the dry terrain. Massive plants towering over the dirt and rocks.
The Southwest winds begin to pickup as you drive away from the thriving city of Phoenix and away from the burning concrete. I elected to ride with the windows down to enjoy the breeze and feel the sun as he set right along side me. Needless to say this is a beautiful drive at sunset.
Dead Horse State Park is located adjacent to the Verde River. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) “the Verde River is merely one of Arizona’s two Wild Scenic Rivers”. https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=70863 Being situated along side the river provides the park with the necessary elements to sustain a multitude of plants and wildlife. The park features boating, fishing, hiking, biking, and nature viewing. This park was amazingly beautiful in the early morning hours. And I was impressed how well-kept the restroom facilities are.
The office staff at Trail Horse Adventures was friendly and the office was well maintained. I had the opportunity to take a solo ride which gave me the opportunity to ask questions and learn a great deal about the land.
Standing in a park that was said to have been inhabited as long as 8000 BC was surreal. The view from atop of the backside of the horse was much different from that of the earth. I did not feel like the horse’s master but a fellow friend leading him as he was leading me. A store clerk told me that my legs would be gaping but perhaps the recent continuous exploration of the practice of yoga and meditation have provided me with the thigh postures necessary to feel comfortable atop of my new friend Jolly.
This was my first time on a horse since elementary school. Having said this, I was happy with the thorough instructions and tips prior to departing. We rode a trail into the park around a pound. The fisherman was nice enough to admire me on the horse and it did give me a bit more confidence. So I sat taller and rode on listening to the history of the park and learning about the people of the area.
The park was beautiful filled with some familiar trees and flowers and many unfamiliar specimen. I loved learning of how Native American used some of them. My horse was trying to use some of the plants for fuel so I had to kick him and pull on the reins which was not fun at all. I was told that if I had let him graze he would think that it was fine and continue doing so. Aside from an occasional snack we didn’t have one issue he was very easy to ride.
The ride took us down into a peaceful creek and back up. I was bit taken back by the downward journey which was likely very small by normal standards but seemed aggressive to my childlike eyes. However, it turned out just fine after the initial shock of “I did that?”. Or after realizing the horse really is the amazing creature for doing all of the work.
During the corse of our ride Billy suggested that I visit Jerome, AZ at least for lunch if nothing else and possibly souvenirs. He advised that it was a very cool town to experience with lots of history aside from that it was an inexpensive and close detour.This portion of the conversation required him to stop his horse to look me in the face. Billy later told me that he had not personally experienced any haunting stories in the ghost town he had friends that did. We will explore this town in a subsequent blogpost.
Ridding the gentle intelligent horse I was filled with a sense of calm. The kind of calm that makes you realize that nothing else matters beyond enjoying this very point in time, the present.
If you’re in Cottonwood, AZ you should most certainly visit Dead Horse State Park and Trail Horse Adventures.
Honestly, it’s hard to distinguish a point that was not relaxing during my morning. The drive was truly a blissful experience that set the stage for a wonderful horse ride.